Joy to the world: The holiday windows have come!
The COVID-19 pandemic has upended virtually every holiday tradition — sitting on Santa’s lap, caroling, gathering at Grandma’s. But it actually is beginning to look a lot like Christmas outside Bloomingdale’s, Bergdorf’s, Saks and Macy’s.
“The holiday windows and light show are our annual gift to New York City,” Emily Essner, chief marketing officer at Saks, told The Post. Saks’ particularly sumptuous windows depict a variety of Yuletide celebrations, from the tride and true (a little girl getting an autograph after “The Nutcracker”) to the more timely (a socially distanced gathering at a food truck).
“This year, we felt it was more important than ever to uphold this long-standing tradition,” added Essner. And to “deliver fun and escapism this holiday season.”
Some stores tailored their themes in response to the pandemic. The windows at Macy’s pay tribute to NYC’s essential workers, with neon signs flashing “thank you” in 16 different languages.
Bergdorf Goodman, however, had started planning its designs back in January, with a focus on giving back. The resulting theme, “Bergdorf Goodness,” features dazzling stained-glass windows with words like joy, peace, equality and hope in big mirrored block letters. “Little did we realize just how important [that message] would become,” said Linda Fargo, senior vice president of the fashion office and store presentation at Bergdorf’s.
Executing such lavish displays — while following social-distancing guidelines — also proved a challenge. “Most years we have beehives of artisans at work creating elaborate and collaborative handmade objects,” said Fargo.
Instead, planning and visualization meetings took place via Zoom, and factories and artisans delivered samples to individual homes to review. “This was definitely an adjustment for teams that are used to touching and feeling materials and in-person production visits,” said Saks’ Essner.
Bloomingdales’ John Klimkowski, meanwhile, said that the windows gave the store a chance to hire local artisans who had lost work to help build their whimsical scent-enhanced displays, from a Christmas tree made of green stuffed teddy bears (which has a pine scent piped outdoors) to a giant candy-cane-striped tongue (a peppermint scent) to a gigantic orange glitter dog. (That one, thankfully, doesn’t have a smell.)
“We looked to costume designers from Broadway who aren’t working right now, or local artists who [have been] displaced due to COVID,” said Klimkowski, VP of visual merchandising and windows. Plus, the surrealist, gleeful props helped lift the workers’ moods. “They bring a smile to everyone,” Klimkowski said.
And after a tough year, New Yorkers really do need to smile.
“We’re a national company, but our [59th Street] flagship really is a neighborhood store,” said Klimkowski. “When I was walking home last night, I turned around and the store just became a beacon on the avenue, with the cheerful color and the vibrant lights. It felt like there was hope.”
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